Cougar Travels from South Dakota to Connecticut

A wild cougar that was born in South Dakota recently walked all the way to Connecticut, a journey of over 1,500 miles.

Cougars were extirpated from Connecticut many decades ago, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recently declared the eastern cougar subspecies that once lived there officially extinct throughout its range in the East.  This particular South Dakotan cougar met a sad ending after its long journey when it was struck by a car and killed.

Despite these facts, the story still has a silver lining. It demonstrates that if the habitat exists, given enough time certain wildlife species might just be able to recolonize areas where they have been wiped out by human activity.

Who knows how many more western cougars are moving eastward in search of new territory?  There’s plenty of prey in the form of  white-tailed deer, which have become overabundant in many eastern states due to the lack of their primary predators: namely wolves and cougars.  Given strong protections for both the cats and their potential habitat, one day in the distant future we might see breeding cougar populations in the East again.

Watch this clip of NWF’s Vice President of Wildlife Conservation John Kostyack on Fox’s America Live show to learn more about this amazing Connecticut cougar and then adopt its critically endangered Florida panther cousin through NWF’s symbolic wildlife adoption program.